Cashew, corn and quinoa
( SERVES 2 )
Sometimes it’s fun to take an ingredient and use much more than you normally would. It can be rewarding to shake up our preconceptions and open the door to new experiences. In this case black pepper is the unashamed star, and in this quantity it gives a rich warmth that lingers nicely after you finish eating. To balance it I’ve used corn and carrot for sweetness, and white balsamic vinegar for a touch of gentle sour. The quinoa adds body without being too heavy, but you could happily use leftover rice instead. Roasted peanuts and cashews are packed with flavour, just make sure you add them at the end to keep their crunchy texture. With all that pepper firing up the tastebuds I found myself looking for contrast, and a mix of orange and cucumber with mint did the trick — it’s like a crisp, chunky, sweet raita. This dish is totally plant-based and satisfying but it also works well as a base for leftover cooked meats. You could always serve it as is to vegan companions then add whatever cooked protein you have in the fridge to cater for omnivores, just toss it back in the pan to get it all piping hot and you have two meals in one.
- To make 3 cups of cooked quinoa, simply place 1 cup of quinoa into a pot with 2 cups of water and ½ tsp of salt. Bring to a boil then turn down very low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. You can keep leftover quinoa in the fridge for three or four days.
- Mix the cucumber, orange and mint in a bowl and chill in fridge till ready to serve.
- Heat a heavy bottomed pan on high heat. Add the peanut oil and black pepper and let it sizzle for 15 seconds to bring out the flavour. Add the sweetcorn and carrot, stirring around for a couple of minutes to lightly brown them. Splash in the white balsamic to deglaze the pan then add the garlic, salt and spring onions, cooking for a minute so they soften. Lastly add the cooked quinoa, cooking another minute or two until piping hot. Remove from heat and mix in the crushed peanuts.
- Serve sprinkled with roasted cashews and the chilled cucumber salad alongside for freshness.